Should You Publish an Electronic Newsletter to Extend Your Personal Brand?
People are inundated with electronic information. Communicating your personal brand is important, but you don’t want to be pushy. Be honest: How many e-mails do you get a day that you don’t have time to read? What makes you actually click a content link? In other words, what makes something worth reading?
Before creating a newsletter for yourself and your business, you need to determine whether doing so truly has value for your target audience. Here are some considerations:
Do create a newsletter if you like to write and can use it as a way to communicate and engage your audience with meaningful information. (If you’re not blogging, a newsletter is a great tool.) Even if you’re blogging, create a newsletter if you like to write and you have additional meaningful information to share.
Don’t start a newsletter if you have only more of the same to say and won’t create additional value. Your readers may feel frustrated if you’re just repackaging information. (For example, if you blog consistently and turn the posts into a newsletter that comes out weekly, you’ll likely frustrate your readers. If you blog frequently but send a newsletter only every other month, the newsletter could work well.)
Don’t over-communicate with your audience because you risk being unsubscribed. Find the best frequency for your target market; you can do so by trial and error or by offering a short poll via blog post or e-mail.
Do use your newsletter to offer value, but don’t just sell, sell, sell your products. Your newsletter is best when you connect and provide information that your target audience finds valuable and makes it remember that you provide specific expertise.
Do keep newsletter articles tightly written and don’t drone on in the copy. Your readers are short on time and appreciate brevity.
Selecting a newsletter tool
Lots of excellent newsletter tools are available to help you produce a newsletter with ease. Some of the better known ones are
Microsoft Outlook: This tool is simple (and fairly inexpensive). Outlook provides a convenient way to build your address list while using your e-mail. Use a more sophisticated system if you plan on publishing newsletters often and really building your distribution list.
MailChimp: This user-friendly system features strong analytic tools and, as of this writing, is free for a mailing list of up to 2,000 (and quite inexpensive for larger lists).
Aweber: With strong analytic tools, this user-friendly system is great if you do a lot of e-marketing.
Constant Contact: Although less user-friendly than MailChimp and Aweber, this system also boasts strong analytics and is fairly inexpensive.
Before you select a newsletter tool, think about your long-term e-marketing goals. Moving your lists from one service provider to the next isn’t always easy, and some tools require that your list re-opt-in when you transfer, so try to select a service that meets your needs for the long term.
Design your newsletter’s look and feel
What should your newsletter look like? You can create a custom template or (much easier) just customize an existing template from the tools above. Keep these details in mind when customizing your newsletter:
Color: Keep the colors of your newsletter consistent with your website, business card, and any other existing materials.
Contact info: Always make it easy for a reader to contact you. Keep in mind that while you aren’t necessarily hard-selling through your newsletter, you do want to make yourself accessible to your readers.
Font: Stick to the same fonts used on your website and other materials. Consistency creates a lasting impression, and you look put together and polished.
Masthead: Create an imprint at the top of your newsletter that represents your brand. Include your logo and/or create a catchy name for your newsletter. If you create a new name for your newsletter, make sure that it’s aligned with your existing brand. (A good example is the Reach Personal Branding newsletter, which is called YOUnique.)
Proofread: Always proofread your content before you send it because misspellings reflect so poorly on your personal brand.
Review: Constantly review and improve your template. Make it as user-friendly as possible.
Share and subscribe: Make it really easy for readers to share and subscribe to your e-mail list. Definitely include the ability to like your newsletter on Facebook, Tweet the newsletter link, or connect with other social media tools. Also, make it easy for a reader to simply forward the newsletter to a friend (and land a new subscriber for you!).